We talked about the explosion in nostalgia and pop culture, whether it's vintage movies, TV shows, or of course, music. And since the COVID outbreak, the return to “old school” everything has been amplified. We've discussed the phenomenon in this blog numerous times, especially as it relates to yet another Classic Rock renaissance.
On the television end of the spectrum, the hot trend is “reboots” – taking a venerable, dependable, and once-popular TV franchise and updating it. In the case of some shows – Hawaii Five-0 comes to mind – the modern versions are produced with entirely new casts. I, for one, missed the old Danno.
But some “reboots” reunite the old team. That was the case with the comeback of Will & Grace. After an 11 year hiatus – or vacation – the show's original cast was reunited, and the new rendition of the show returned to its old glory. After three seasons, however, it was cancelled yet again.
Not every “reboot” has had a good resurrection. The much-anticipated reunion of Murphy Brown – while a fun trip down memory lane – failed to live up to the hype. Its return from the sitcom ashes lasted just one season.
Last week, CNN Entertainment‘s Rob Picheta reported that ViacomCBS' new streaming platform, Paramount+, will offer the next iteration of Frasier in what's being promoted as a “flagship offering.” That means there's a lot riding on this reboot.
So, what is Kelsey Grammer thinking?
He's Jonesing to reprise his most famous role ever as picky and prickly psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane. And he believes you can go home again. Oddly enough, the character was a winner both on Cheers and later on the spinoff, Frasier. So, the hope is that the third try may be a charm.
And while Grammer has had his share of movie and TV successes since the end of his talk radio run – his title role on Boss, playing the mayor of Chicago, Tom Kane, was brilliant – there's been nothing like Frasier. Problem is, he hasn't played our favorite neurotic sitcom radio star for 17 years, and a lot has happened during that time period.
In case you forgot, Frasier spent years on the air at Seattle's KACL, a fictitious AM station that survived several format changes and even more GMs.
And back when Frasier was on the air at KACL, the radio industry was a much different business back in 2004.
In those days, Mel Karmazin was running CBS Radio, the Mays family was still steering Clear Channel from San Antonio, Erica Farber was covering it all as publisher at Radio & Records, and Premiere was hawking a daily feature called “Trumped,” featuring a popular reality TV star.
The more things change…
It is not known whether Grammer will be reuniting the old cast, but as the press release heralded, “Frasier's back – and he's more exactly the same as ever.”
That suggests to me he'll back on the radio – hopefully on an FM station – despite this long hiatus.
Frasier returning to the medium he loves – radio – would be good for his career and good for radio broadcasters everywhere.
After all, it has always been a great sign when there's been a hit TV show…about radio. WKRP, News Radio, and yes, Frasier all made radio look like a fun job with crazy staffers working in a spirit of fun and wackiness, with loads of camaraderie.
But alas, all great sitcoms eventually run their course. In the final Frasier episode in May 2004 – “Goodnight, Seattle” – our favorite radio shrink ends up leaving his job and the market, chasing romance in Chicago.
So, let's begin our new story from that point. Radio is a business of second (and often third) chances. Imus, among others, excelled when he landed back at WNBC in New York City, later WFAN, and more glory. Redemption is always possible on the airwaves.
With Frasier back on the radio, the plot lines get numerous and juicy. And thanks to my vast network of contacts, I was able to get my hands on these season one show treatments:
1. In the premier episode, Frasier's agent received a mystery contact from a broadcaster. NDAs are signed, and it's revealed Frasier's road back to radio is replacing Rush Limbaugh. Upon learning the news, Frasier is aghast, but soldiers on with the new gig. Immediately, he is pilloried by outraged “ditto heads” turned by his erudite delivery and Ivy League education, not to mention his refusal to do live reads for The Pillow Guy. Hilarity ensures.
2. After a couple weeks back on the radio, Frasier is rusty. Management decides to bring in a high-powered talent coach. Mike McVay is the obvious choice, but from the moment they meet, sparks fly. Frasier is offended by the hearing from everyone at the station that McVay is a better dresser. Hilarity ensues.
3. Frasier's social media knowledge is next to zero given his hiatus these past several years. He resents having to spend on- and off-air time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But the final straw occurs when the program director orders him to start making TikTok videos. He creates the “Frasier Challenge.” Hilarity ensues.
4. Frasier's station is sold, and his first meeting with the new owners goes poorly. It seems he trash-talked them back at KACL. And rumor has it they want revenge. Hilarity ensures.
5. Frasier is invited to keynote Talk Show Boot Camp, but finds that instead, he's on a panel with Dr. Laura, George Noory, moderated by Randy Michaels. No one's happy. Hilarity ensues.
6. Nielsen contacts Frasier to participate in a PPM survey. This creates a dilemma about his moral compass. Should he or shouldn't he? Bubba the Love Sponge makes a cameo. Hilarity ensues.
7. Jerry Del Colliano trashes Frasier in his daily newsletter, accusing our favorite radio therapist of being a management suck-up. His program director reminds him that at one time or another, Jerry goes after everyone. Frasier is not mollified. Hilarity ensues.
8. It turns out Frasier is the only show host on the station without a podcast. The PD demands he launches one. Frasier fires back. He argues there are already too many podcasts, repurposing existing shows is lame, his fans won't download them anyway, and no one will make any money on the venture. Hilarity ensues.
9. Art Vuolo contacts Frasier, seeking permission to videotape a week's worth of shows. Still stinging over the McVay sartorial embarrassment, Frasier obsesses about what to wear. He finally chooses an Ohio State jersey. Hilarity ensues.
10. Frasier suspects he was snubbed when he doesn't receive an invitation to the station Christmas party. It turns out there is no Christmas party this year. Hilarity ensues.
11. A sales person approaches Frasier with a promotion for a hair restoration clinic. It seems that Frasier will undergo treatment, and then talk about his newly minted hair over the 13-week sponsorship. Frasier balks, wondering whether he really needs follicle enhancement. The rep reminds him there's $11,000 on the line. Frasier caves. Hilarity ensues.
12. After just two books, Frasier's ratings are tepid. In a contentious meeting, Frasier complains about a lack of marketing, and a mediocre lead-in from a radio psychic on just before him. He asks how many meters are in the market at any given time, and when he hears the number, he goes ballistic. Hilarity ensures.
13. The next weekly doesn't show any improvement, and Frasier is visibly nervous. And the new CPR report from Nielsen reveals his heaviest meters are all from fans over 70 – his original core audience now falling off the demographic cliff. Management suggests he do a week's worth of shows from the neighborhood where a voracious meter holder lives. Frasier refuses to pander to a single listener, and is summarily fired the day before Christmas Eve. Hilarity ensues.
With a debut season like this, there's no question Paramount+ green lights a second year's worth of shows. I just heard Roz is on the beach – and she's looking.
If my truly engaging plots don't pave the way for Frasier's triumphant return to the radio airwaves (and TV sitcom land), then perhaps I should stick to radio consulting.
And by the way, if Frasier ends up on SiriusXM, I'm boycotting the new show.
After all, he is a shrink of the people, not just for those who can afford to subscribe.
Remember how Frasier would respond to his callers?
We'll be watching.
- The Face Of The Franchise - February 8, 2023
- I'm Guilty!Of Radio Station Website Shaming - February 7, 2023
- Fire Your Consultant (And Hire ChatFNJ For Your Radio Station) - February 6, 2023